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Nuit Blanche returns for midnight art exhibit

By Bhagya Ramesh, September 18 2014 —

Nuit Blanche is a midnight art festival that originated in Russia, rapidly spread through Europe and has arrived in Calgary.

What started as a discussion on public art in 2010 has since become an artistic phenomenon in our city. The inaugural Nuit Blanche Calgary was met with accolades, a warm critical response and a crowd of over 10,000 people.

From 7:00 p.m. on Sept. 20 until 1:00 a.m. Sept. 21, Nuit Blanche will transform Olympic and Municipal plazas into a public art spectacle, but this time with more artists, more food, more hype and a new smartphone app.

In conceptualizing a Nuit Blanche for Calgary, Wayne Baerwaldt, the director and curator of Nuit Blanche Calgary, says organizers wanted to take a different approach than previous events in other cities.

“We thought we would put a focus on performance art. We wanted to present the sort of intimacy we find in performance art to the downtown area and we thought that was a fantastic starting point,” says Baerwaldt.

The event gives artists wide exposure that they couldn’t get from a smaller show over the course of two to three weeks, says Baerwaldt, adding that the event shows what is possible with public places.

Nuit Blanche blurs the lines between art and audience, encouraging artists to interact with the community in a non-traditional venue.

“It gives [artists] the confidence to display within City Hall after dark, [in] a place that’s usually locked up at night,” says Baerwaldt.

The artists participating in this year’s Nuit Blanche come from around the world. Key performances include a re-enactment of Anna Halprin’s 1970’s anti-Vietnam war piece Blank Placard Dance, which is being re-scored and re-envisioned for Nuit Blanche Calgary. Workshops are being run by Rosario Sammartino from San Francisco’s Tamalpa Institute. Baerwaldt was also eager to mention the “radical feminist drum circle that would be conducting frenzied drumming every hour on the hour” led by ACAD graduate Wednesday Lupypciw of The Feminist Supremacy.

“The voices of each drummer and the energy of this collective activity will seep into the earth and echo in the streets of Calgary for some time,” says Lupypciw.

Not every installation at Nuit Blanche Calgary is political, but every work you will find downtown this Saturday is sure to be interesting.

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